Chef José Andrés traded his chef's coat for an increasingly frayed-looking cargo vest much of last year, feeding hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. This week, the chef once again donned his fatigues (and kicked off his shoes) for the occasion of SXSW (read: South by Southwest), the annual hipster-techster megafestival of film, music and culture that brings some of the biggest names and brightest minds together for concerts, conferences, dinners, parties and general merrymaking in Austin, Texas.
This year, Andrés joined the ranks of supermodel x entrepreneur Karlie Kloss, socialist x senator Bernie Sanders and Space … X CEO Elon Musk at SXSW. The Spanish-American chef headlined a "Changing the World Through Food" panel with food-TV personality Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods fame on Monday.
The session focused on Andrés' recent humanitarian efforts with his organization World Central Kitchen, and the panelists expounded on the ways even we regular folk can help, one plate at a time.
But as Andrés—no newcomer to these shindigs—knows, you don't just hit one event at SXSW and call it a day. In the days before and after his main event (SXSW runs from March 9-18), the chef gave additional interviews about his time in Puerto Rico, sustainability in restaurants, and the idea of one day being replaced by a robot in the kitchen; he was also spotted getting down at a rap show featuring fellow activists T.I. and Common.
Elsewhere at SXSW, Unfiltered took particular interest in the Bytes & Barolo panel, where Rob Wilder of Andres' ThinkFoodGroup, Florencia Palmaz of Napa's Palmaz Vineyards and other tech-minded food-and-drink types spoke about technology's growing role in the wine industry. And later in the week, Ti Martin of Wine Spectator Grand Award winner Commander's Palace popped up on a panel about the country's OG celebrity chefs, including her mother, matriarch of New Orleans Ella Brennan.
Black Panther, the latest Marvel superhero blockbuster that has dominated the box office for weeks, is set in the fictional kingdom of Wakanda, a prosperous nation, but, as far as Unfiltered knows, not particularly known for viticulture. That could change if one wine-loving fan's idea for a “Wakanda Wine Fest” comes to fruition.
The wine fest is the brainchild of Davon Hatchett, a Texas attorney by day and Champagne blogger who goes by “The Bubbleista” by night (very much the superhero we need!). Hatchett told Unfiltered via email that the Wakanda Wine Fest could shine a light on lesser-known "hidden wine gems," especially from regions in Africa—"a little Pinotage, anyone?" she said.
“When I close my eyes and envision what the fest is like, I see an event where all five senses are fully engaged,” uniting wine lovers of all stripes, Hatchett said.
So far, the wine fest is in early days—Hatchett has only just applied for the trademark, citing educational and charitable intent—but she’s confident it would boost anticipation for the Black Panther sequel Marvel is planning.
What is the study of grapes called: ampelography, vexillology or rheology? What is on the label of the 2015 Mouton Rothschild that differentiates it from past years—the signatures of two artists, or the signature of Philippe Sereys de Rothschild? And finally, the late, great toque Paul Bocuse got a back tattoo while fighting against the Nazis in France with La Résistance. What is it, a rooster, a fork or three stars?
If you knew guessed ampelography, Sereys de Rothschild's signature and a real mean-looking Gallic rooster, you might have made a strong start in the annual Left Bank Bordeaux Cup quiz show/taste-off. But you'd still have to tackle three flights of claret and Sauternes, and identify—blind—appellations, vintages and, in one case, even the exact château. Also, you'd have to be a student of one of the top business or law schools in the country.
Since 2011, the Commanderie du Bontemps de Médoc, des Graves, de Sauternes et de Barsac, an organization of jolly red-robed Left Bank Bordeaux estate owners, merchants and aficionados, has hosted the Cup's U.S. prelims at the French Consulate in New York, where teams of youthful wine lovers and hoped-for future members of the tax bracket that buys classified Bordeaux face off to determine who will get the honor of hoisting the red, white and blue at the world finals at Château Lafite Rothschild.
The competitors came prepared. Yale Law School's team had been tasting Bordeauxs three times a week since January. "We worked on really every [vintage] post-2000," YLS' Max Harris Siegel told Unfiltered, with emphasis on "difficult" years like '06 and '08. It paid off: The second flight of wines were '08s.
Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business fielded a team of future potential wine pros, including Annabel de Braganca, who recently passed the intro course for the Court of Master Sommeliers, and José Salgado Guevara, whose family owns the winery Hilo Negro in Mexico and who's off to work for Napa's Duckhorn after graduation. But like most of the teams, Tuck's was culled from a broad talent pool: The university wine club is "pretty much the entire student body," said de Braganca. When they hold tastings and events, tickets sell out in less than 10 minutes.
Following the big game, teams gathered for a cooldown fete, sipping Château Carbonnieux Blanc 2013, La Lagune '07 and Clerc Milon '02. The results came in, and the road to Lafite continues for runner-up Yale Law and victor Harvard Business.
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